03 Mar

punched out

Swing and a miss. The enduring image from Wednesday night’s Mississippi State-Southern Miss clash at Trustmark Park in Pearl is of Bulldogs batters flailing at off-speed pitches from Golden Eagles right-hander Tanner Hall. Before a crowd of 6,387 mostly MSU fans, Hall struck out 13 over seven shutout innings as USM decked the defending national champs 7-1. Bulldogs fans, boisterous at the outset, had little to cheer about as the game went on and the night grew cold. Bulldogs batters were muzzled by Hall, a sophomore from Louisiana making his fourth appearance, second start, for the 6-2 Eagles. He threw 98 pitches, 72 for strikes. Appropriately, he whiffed the last batter he faced. Hall’s counterpart for State, Jackson Fristoe, lasted just three-plus, struck out none and was hit hard. The big blow was a two-run triple by Gabe Montenegro that put USM up 2-0 in the third inning. Reece Ewing followed with an RBI single. USM went up 6-0 in the fifth on a two-run double by Slade Wilks. All told, the opportunistic Eagles produced seven hits, seven walks and two sac bunts. The Bulldogs, a consensus top 10 team at the moment, are scuffling at 5-4. They’re hitting .260 as a team and have fanned 72 times. They managed seven hits Wednesday, but their only big knock was an eighth-inning RBI double off the bat of star catcher Logan Tanner. State will no doubt get it turned around at some point, but Wednesday night was a swing and a miss.

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